Unplanned shutdown of NRU reactor extended



    CHALK RIVER, ON, May 18 /CNW/ - Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL)
reported on Friday, May 15th that the NRU reactor was safely shut down on
Thursday, May 14th due to a loss of electrical power that occurred in parts of
eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
    During routine monitoring in the early morning hours of May 15th, a small
leak of heavy water was detected within the NRU reactor facility. The leak
rate is estimated to be at about 5 kg/hr. The heavy water is fully contained
and is being stored in specially designed drums.
    The location of the heavy water leak has been identified at the base of
the reactor vessel in a location where there is corrosion on the outside wall
of the vessel. Repair options are currently under consideration and activities
are being planned. As a result, AECL anticipates that the NRU reactor will
remain out of service for more than one month.
    Due to high airflow in the area, a small portion of the leakage
evaporates and results in a monitored tritium release through the NRU
ventilation system. Although the airborne release is well below regulatory
limits, the release has reached action levels for tritium. While this level
does not pose a threat to the public or our workers, this is the level at
which AECL reports to stakeholders and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
(CNSC).
    AECL expects to meet its production requirements for medical isotopes for
the coming week. However, based on the current delivery schedule, production
will be unable to meet demand beginning Saturday (May 23rd) of this week. AECL
has notified Health Canada, and MDS Nordion of the current situation.
    AECL confirms that there is no threat to workers, the public, the
environment or nuclear safety related to this event. The CNSC was first
notified on Friday, May 15th, and AECL will provide updates to the CNSC and
stakeholders when new information becomes available.





For further information:

For further information: Dale Coffin, Director, Corporate
Communications, AECL, 1-866-886-2325

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